My Cookbooks love their new home!

I apologize for the lack of posts going on around here. I’m trapped in boxes and packaging tape over here. If I see a roll of tape I’m going to throw it out of the window! And boxes – I’m so tired of them! They are going to haunt me for quite some time.

The hardest part so far is trying to find room for everything. Our new apartment is smaller than our last apartment. It’s like trying to fit 10 lbs of sugar in a 5 lb container.  So I’m going to have to put my organization skills to the test and see what I can do! But in due time everything will be unpacked and have a place to go!

But our new place has a killer view. You have to see the beautiful view from my living room. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

I wanted to show you the beautiful home for my cookbooks. It’s the Lack Wall shelf from Ikea. And it’s a steal at $49.99!!  It’s like the perfect space for them. Although as you can see, I don’t really have much room to grow. If push comes to shove I can always find a new home for my Staub Vertical Roaster (that I absolutely adore!).

I mean seriously – wasn’t that Wall shelf MADE for that kitchen?

It’s funny because I bought that wall shelf when we lived in our old apartment. And Mr. Curly Fry kept going on and on about how I didn’t need that, it wasn’t necessary, blah blah blah. Well when we moved into our new place and I put it there, he said it looks great and we may need to get another one. What?! I made him repeat himself. That was music to my ears.

So that’s what I’m up to. Unpacking. And it’s really no fun. But what I am looking forward to is getting back into the kitchen! I can’t wait to cook and bake.

Something new for my kitchen is coming via UPS today, and I’m SO excited!!! Stay tuned to see what it is!

 

 

 

Baking for the Holidays

Since I love baking, I always plan a day of baking around the holidays! This year I will be spending all day on Friday baking my behind off. There are so many different things I want to make. This is the perfect opportunity for me since I can give most of it away. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to keep it all for myself, but that is the last thing I need!

So here’s what I’m making…

I want to make a few other things – but I need some inspiration!

What are you baking for the holidays?

Cupcake Emergency

So as I already mentioned, Hurricane Irene came through and kept everyone indoors all weekend long. I decided that I was going to get a little bit of baking in while I had the chance. I had a few cupcake flavors I wanted to try out, so that’s exactly what I did! After all, we were in a Cupcake Emergency!

I baked up some Chocolate Cupcakes

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And I made my Basic Buttercream

I wanted to do a few different flavors of Buttercream, so I divided up the Basic Buttercream and went to business!

I took some Oreos and threw them in Vitamix. I had Oreo crumbs that were nice and fine. So I decided to do a Cookies N’ Cream ButtercreamVanilla Buttercream + Oreo Crumbs = YUM!

Chocolate Cupcake; Cookies N’ Cream Buttercream

I still had some of the fine Oreo crumbs leftover, so I decided that I wanted to do a Chocolate Buttercream dusted with Oreo Crumbs. So I added in some Penzeys Natural Cocoa Powder and a very small sprinkle of Williams-Sonoma Espresso Powder.  And let me tell you – between these two ingredients, the Buttercream comes out oh so chocolatey. The Epresso Powder really enhances that rich chocolate flavor.

Chocolate Cupcake; Chocolate Buttercream; Oreo Crumbs

Mr. Curly Fry loves Kit Kats, so I wanted to incorporate those into a cupcake. So I used the Chocolate Buttercream. Talk about a Chocolate overload. But in a good way!

Chocolate Cupcake; Chocolate Buttercream; Kit Kats

I had some Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough in the refrigerator so that inspired me to make a Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcake. When I was making the Cupcakes, I put some Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough in the center of the cupcake and baked it. So there’s chocolate chip cookie baked in the center of these bad boys!! Then I topped it off with Chocolate Buttercream and garnished it with a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie.  How can you go wrong with that?

Chocolate Cupcake with a Chocolate Chip Cookie filling;
Chocolate Buttercream
; Chocolate Chip Cookie garnish

Last, but certainly not least! I wanted to do a Peanut Butter Buttercream. Is there really a better combination?! Peanut Butter + Buttercream = Heaven! This was my favorite cupcake of the day…the Chutter Butter! The Peanut Butter Buttercream was so creamy and smooth…it had my taste buds doing back flips! I seriously could have sat there with a spoon if I had any extra Buttercream left!

Chocolate Cupcake; Peanut Butter Buttercream; Nutter Butters

What flavor of Buttercream would you like to see spotlighted here on the blog?! 

 

 

Culinary Arts Class – Week 5

Cooking methods in the Culinary Arts world are divided into two categories: Dry Heat Cooking and Moist Heat Cooking. Last week’s class was all about Dry Cooking Methods – such as roasting, broiling, grilling, deep-frying or sautéing.

Dry heat cooking refers to any cooking technique where the heat is transferred to the food without using any moisture.

Baking or roasting in an oven is a dry heat method because it uses hot air to conduct the heat. Roasted foods should develop a rich roasted aroma and they should have a well-developed color.

Pan-searing or sautéing a piece of steak is considered dry heat cooking because the heat shift takes place through the hot metal of the pan. When you sauté something, it’s very important that you use a very hot pan. Be sure to also let the small amount of fat that you use get hot as well.  You will develop a nice degree of browning on whatever you are pan-searing or sautéing.

Grilling and broiling rely on the heat being conducted through the air from an open flame. It is necessary that the food be very close to the heat source when you are grilling or broiling. Also be sure to flip the piece of meat so that it cooks evenly on both sides.

Since Deep-Frying involves putting food in hot, liquid fat, you would probably think that this is a Moist Cooking method and not a Dry Cooking method. But it is indeed a Dry Cooking method. Due to the high temperature involved and the high heat conduction of oil, the food cooks very quickly. The hot oil heats the water within the food, steaming it from the inside. Items that are deep fried are generally battered (other than potatoes or poultry with the skin still on) before being immersed in the oil.

Banana Fritters

The dish that I cooked in class was Pork Medallions with a Dijon Mustard Butter. This was absolutely phenomenal. I used a grill pan to cook the pork in, and let me tell you how it tasted like it was straight off the grill. I got some great grill marks on the meat and then finished it in the oven. The Dijon Mustard Butter was the perfect addition. There are so many different things you can do with this dish. Play around with the butter ingredients and you can create some awesome flavors.

We also made Banana Fritters in class. We coated some cut up bananas in a batter and then deep fried them in peanut oil. These little things were so delicious. They would be so good dipped in a caramel rum sauce – Mmmmm.

Baking for the Holidays

As we all know, I love to bake. So whenever I am going to someone’s house I like to bake something and take it with me. Sure, I can bring an appetizer or a side dish, but I always have to bring along a dessert of some sort. It’s just my thing.

Cookies n Cream Fudge

We are going to my sister’s house on Christmas, and she asked me to bring a side dish that I am always asked to make. It’s one of those dishes that everyone loves so you’re ALWAYS asked to bring it. But I wanted to bring some treats as well. That’s the fun part, after all.

Here’s what I’m taking…

Peanut Butter Fudge – My grandmother always made the BEST peanut butter fudge. I remember helping her make it when I was younger. It was one of those recipes where you have to get out the candy thermometer and it’s a big production. I found a recipe that tastes just like hers except I don’t get out the candy thermometer for mine. It’s one of those “boil for 5 minutes” and it’s done. That’s right up my alley!

Cookies n Cream Fudge – About 5 years ago I took this along to Thanksgiving dinner. I had never made it before but it sounded good. I’m all about cookies n cream anything. So I made a few recipe substitutions (it called for white chocolate and I don’t like that) and I took it along. Everyone loved it. They raved about it. They asked for the recipe. So I figured I’d make it again and take it on Christmas.

Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Cookies n Cream Buttercream Icing

Triple Chocolate Biscotti – Mmmm, biscotti. And even better that it’s chocolate. With chocolate chips. Dipped in chocolate. There’s no such thing as a chocolate overload around the holidays.  Now…I’m not a dipper. And I still love this biscotti. So this biscotti is great for the dippers and the ones that won’t dip!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cookies n Cream Buttercream icing – Last weekend I was testing an icing recipe so I made some chocolate cupcakes. I wanted to make a really good cookies n cream buttercream icing. The end product was amazing. Absolutely delicious!  So I decided that I want to make some and bring them along tomorrow. My 3 year old niece is just like her Aunt and LOVES cake and most importantly icing. So she’ll love these!

 

What are your favorite holiday treats to make?